Rex Ryan Q&A

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan met with the media on Sunday to talk about his team's preparations for the San Diego Chargers. Find out why Ryan is confident his surging group has what it takes to come into Qualcomm Stadium and pull off the upset.

New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan, 1.10

Opening statement…

Obviously, it's on to San Diego for us. The Ravens looked outstanding to me in defeating New England. I recognized that formula for success. (They were) able to run the football, play great defense, and they're moving on to Indianapolis.

As far as the (Cincinnati) game, when you look at the video, there are some things that we'll get corrected as far as our ability to stop the run. There are some things that are very correctible, but we're going to be looking at getting that done the first day of practice, which will be on Tuesday.

Offensively, I thought that might have been our best game of the year (in terms of) how efficient we were in the passing game (and) the way we really ran the football. Again, kudos to all the guys up front and the way we pounded that football. It was a tremendous team effort. It was great. We talked about being able to pick each other up - the offense being able to pick up the defense and vice versa. You saw part of that because there were times when the defense needed to be picked up, and the offense did it, and then vice versa. It was a classic team win.

We're excited. We're moving on. (We're) playing against a team that's only won 11 straight games (and) is explosive on offense. The least amount of points the've scored all year is 20. Their offense is playing about as good as anybody's right now. With their weapons, it's certainly understandable. On defense, they have some of the great players in the game when you have (Shawne) Merriman, (Antonio) Cromartie and others, so it's going to be a huge challenge for us and we look forward to it.

On being the last team remaining in the postseason from the AFC East…

We feel good about it really. Again, we're representing our (division). We understand that, but it really comes as no surprise. I thought when (Wes) Welker went down for New England (that) it was going to be a big loss. The Ravens right now, they really look good to me (by) the way they're running the football (and) the way they're playing defense right now. That's a dangerous team.

On the importance of momentum…

I think it's really important. You have to be quick. Right now, all that momentum you're gathering, it's right now with two of the hottest teams in the League. We've won six out of seven. We feel pretty good about ourselves. Then you look at San Diego (who) has won 11 straight. Both teams are carrying a lot of momentum going into this game. It's just going to be who can out execute the other that's going to win this game.

On if he listed on his schedule to the team that they would be hosting the Ravens in the AFC Championship game…

I did not put it like that. I just listed the game. Certainly if that would be the case, (it) would be great. When somebody asked me for what scenario I would like to see the most, (it) would be us hosting the Ravens for a lot of reasons. Not saying the Ravens are going to be less of an opponent because that's ridiculous, but just because I have a lot of personal friends on that staff and on that team. I'm excited for their players and really for that organization. I think both of us would sign up for that right now. It would be a great accomplishment for both teams to get to the championship game. I wouldn't feel so bad if we sent them home packing, that's for sure, but I respect that group so much. I love the way they're playing right now. I think (Joe) Flacco attempted 10 passes today. (That) shows you (they) went back to the formula that's successful and one that we're employing also.

On if the Ravens are watching the Jets…

There's no question. There's no question about that. They know what's happening. They can look at it statistically. They can look at it any way they want. We played each other in the pre season. John (Harbaugh) and I talked then about it. "Hey, let's meet in the playoffs." We both thought that would be a heck of an idea. I'd love to see that happen, but we've both got a lot of work to do before that's a possibility.

On if the Jets have exceeded expectations…

I guess maybe people feel that way. Of course, that hasn't been the way we felt. All year we've had one goal as an organization and that's to win the Super Bowl. We're a long way away from it. It's great to get a win. It's great that people think that we've had a good season already, but for us, I came here to win a championship. That's what our goal is. To us, if we don't accomplish it, it's going to not necessarily be a bad year, but it's going to be one that's not fulfilled.

On the mood on the plane ride home and whether the feeling of victory is intoxicating to the coaches and players…

I think so. I think you realize you've taken one giant step forward trying to accomplish your mission. It breaks down to this. If we can win three games, we are world champions. That's all you need (for) motivation. You talk just about that atmosphere around here, that feeling you get, I mean, excitement, energy, it's great. You want to grab a hold of it. As good as it is, you want to keep that feeling. To do that, we have to play a great game. We have to do a great job in preparation and we've got to do a great job mentally, physically, and go out and emotionally lay it all on the line.

On his feelings this morning…

Well, it's funny because really even when you ask about the attitude on the plane, it's just a confidence thing. It's a confident feeling. I don't know. It's hard to really describe, but it feels great. You also realize that we have a lot of work to do ahead of us. The reality of it is, we win three games, we're world champs. It's so close right now that you can almost taste it, but you've got to do everything in your power to get it done. That's what we have to do, from a preparation standpoint, from just attention to detail, you name it, it needs to be at the highest level. We're excited about the possibility of going to San Diego. We know they're a heck of a football team. They've won 11 straight games, but again, we'll see who's got the better team.

On giving the team the schedule through the Super Bowl…

I just wanted to paint a picture for them. Sometimes when you get in the playoffs, I think you think it's, wow, we're in the playoffs, but is it really reality to think you can win the Super Bowl? When you lay it out in front of them, I think they can visualize it and realize that, "Hey, man, if we take care of business, play the way we know we're capable of doing this, we can get this done." I truly believe in this football team. I believe in our players. I believe in our coaches. I believe in this organization. To me, I just wanted to make sure that they were aware of what's in front of us. I wanted to lay that schedule out to let them know that, ‘Hey, we've been preparing for this. Whether they realize this or not, we've been preparing all season to get to where we are right now, and let's take advantage of it.'

On if he had a preference of playing San Diego or Indianapolis…

Well, first off, it's a good news/bad news. Good news is you're not playing Indy. Bad news is you're playing San Diego, or vice versa. Both those teams are clearly at the top right now. They've earned those records. When you look at San Diego, they're the winners of 11 straight. They're really rolling right now, especially on offense. When you look at them, the lowest total for the year scoring is 20 points I believe. That's pretty amazing. I've been on teams when it felt like the most points we ever scored was 20 (laughter). We know we're going to have our work cut out for us. They have two excellent backs in LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. Sproles is similar to Leon Washington, an outstanding third down back, a specialty back. Of course, LaDainian is one of the all time greats. (Antonio) Gates is probably the best tight end in football. Then they've got these huge, fast receivers on the outside, led by Vincent Jackson. Of course, you have Philip Rivers, who I think he's about as hot as any quarterback in the League right now. Then offensive line wise, you have a couple of anchors in there, a couple of young guys have stepped in and done a really good job. You have (Kris) Dielman at left guard that is a tough guy. He kind of leads that group. Then the center (Nick Hardwick) is a pretty good player, as well. Again, we know it's going to be a huge challenge to us, but we're excited about that.

On if he wanted a second chance at Indianapolis…

Well, if we earn that right and they earn that right, we'll find out a week later.

On if the Jets have proven that they belong in the playoffs…

Yes, I think so. When you're the No. 1 defense in almost every category and No. 1 rushing offense, then you've definitely earned that right.

On if the team has proved something with the convincing victory over the Bengals…

Well, I think we have. But, again, if somebody wants to take us lightly, that's fine. We'll just go ahead and run right through them also. That doesn't bother me one bit what people think. We know the kind of team we have. That's all fine and dandy, but I can promise you this, people are going to look at us and not want to play us.

On injuries to Steve Weatherford and Bart Scott

Bart (Scott) got nicked up a little bit. He'll probably be a little limited in practice for the early practices. We expect him to go. I'd be shocked if he doesn't play in the game. And as far as Steve Weatherford, I saw him this morning. He seems to be doing fine. I think it was just a scary moment. He seems to be doing much better right now. He definitely expects to play this week.

On Scott's injury…

It was an ankle. That's all it is.

On how to combat the Chargers offense…

You've really got to be on top of your game. It's tough because they have such great speed on the outside in size. So a lot of times there's mismatches. You can have great coverage and the guy can go over top of you and take the ball from you. We've just got to play our game on defense and stay active. They also have a great screen game where they get (Darren) Sproles out of the backfield or LaDainian (Tomlinson) out of the backfield. There are some mismatches. Very few linebackers in the League can cover those two guys. They do a great job schematically. Then they have some weapons. (Philip) Rivers right now, he is hot. We're going to have to do some things to get him to be uncomfortable and, hopefully, take the timing off of some of his routes.

On if he is confident that the team can beat the Chargers…

There's no doubt. We're excited about this challenge. We know it's a big challenge. We're ready to go. We have our schedule made out. We're going to stay on East Coast time when we travel there. We know the deal. We just have to get out there. We're going to give them our best shot and we'll see what happens.

On the confidence in the offense…

I think the team is excited about our offense. Clearly our confidence level on offense is as high as it is on defense. When we get the ball, we think we're scoring with it. It's really exciting. Obviously, it starts with the run game. When you're able to run it, that opens up everything. And we are talented on the outside. Jerricho (Cotchery) was targeted six times yesterday and caught six passes. He has got to be one of the most underrated receivers in the league. Then you have Braylon (Edwards), he had that drop, that's killing him right now, but one of these days he's going to have an explosion where it's a three touchdown day and he goes on top for three long gains. I think it's coming. I think it's right around the corner. I'm excited. If you want to put all the guys in there, if you want to play us in zero coverage, I believe that's a mistake.

On Braylon Edwards' dropping easy passes and catching difficult ones…

I think it's funny, because the hardest thing is to get your guy beat, to run the route, steps, everything else. You work yourself over like that, now do the easy thing, which is make the layup. For whatever reason, I don't know if it's a mental thing right now or what, but we've got to get him right. I'm expecting him to have a huge game. Forget the drops. Every receiver has some drops. I really think he's going to have a bust out game where it's going to be one of those three touchdown games. I hope it's sooner than later.

On if there was there a Super Bowl parade on the post season itinerary…

Oh, yeah. Everything. We don't leave anything to chance. We've got it all in there. We're ready for whatever comes our way. We don't expect anybody outside of our locker room to understand it. Again, we really don't care what people think. We're just trying to move our team forward. If you're not man enough or have faith enough in your team to put it on the schedule, then you wouldn't. But we do. We feel like we have an outstanding chance. We think we have an excellent football team. We're not ashamed of the fact that we believe it can happen.

On if the team will sign a backup punter…

I think it was a shock to all of us. He was punting well in pre-game warmups. He came in the locker room, and, all of a sudden, he gets excited for games, and this has happened to him before, but it's always gone down. It just never went down. So he brought it to our trainer's attention. Clearly, we weren't going to put him out there in those circumstances, but we feel pretty good about it. I've talked to Steve (and) the trainers today. Everybody seems like it's a thumbs up for him to be able to work on Tuesday.

On if there is concern that Thomas Jones is wearing down because of the number of carries he had during the regular season…

He did have a ton of carries. He had a bruise on his knee. (He) actually wore a brace this last week, but his yards per carry I think are misleading. He's getting a ton of the tough carries, the goal line carries (and) short yardage carries. A run of two yards might not look very good, but it's huge because it's getting us first downs, touchdowns, things like that. Thomas is doing great. I expect he's going to be fresh. Wait until we get out there in that warm weather. He's going to feel fantastic. I truly believe that we're going to have that 1 2 punch that I think you can ride throughout the playoffs. In a perfect world, you don't want to just rest on one back. I think being on the other side coaching defense all those years, it's disheartening when here comes another fresh back, here comes another one. You can't catch a breather. I think Thomas carried it 15 times, which normally he'll be over 20. We felt great about our run game. We kept feeding Shonn (Greene). He had the hot hand a little bit. It's great to get both of them carries. I would expect Thomas to have his carries over 20 again this week.

On if the Jets have a mental edge over the Chargers because the Jets have played a game…

That's an interesting point. It could be. Sometimes, I think it helps you when you do play just for timing and everything else. The Chargers earned that right to host the game and get that bye week. They're feeling really good. They won 11 straight games, but we feel good about where we are, being the winners of six out of the last seven. We think we're at our best right now. We think San Diego's at their best right now. This is going to be a heck of a matchup.

On what challenges the coaching staff faces in game planning for a team that they haven't faced all year…

We just kind of treat it like we would a normal week. The fact that we get an extra day helps us in that preparation time. We'll call around. I know my brother (Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan) has played against them. He knows San Diego well. I'll probably do the exact opposite of what he recommends (laughter). We have no excuses. We're going to be rolling out of here. Right now, our coaches are busy taking down all their films. We'll start formulating a game plan starting later tonight, work all the way through tomorrow and, come up with a heck of a plan.

On the effectiveness of staying on East Coast time…

The proof's in the pudding. We won 38 0 over the Raiders, so we're definitely going to stay on it. Whether it helped us or not, we think it did. So we'll just go ahead and stay on that plan. I really think it's good. I think it's hard to adjust. You're only there for a couple of days. It's hard to adjust to that kind of time difference. We feel good about our playing, and I think our players do as well.


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